It has been four years since Canadian hardcore band Comeback Kid released their fifth album Symptoms + Cures. A lot has changed in the hardcore scene. It has become less underground but is now dominated by post-hardcore bands that stray from the hardcore ethic. They are still brilliant bands, but they just lack that raw energy you get in traditional hardcore groups. Die Knowing is fitting to Comeback Kid’s name as it is their comeback to the music scene, and a damn fine one at that.
Most bands tend to alter their sound when releasing a new album, especially after four years and a lineup change. In 2012, guitarist Chris Hjelmberg left the band to be replaced by Stu Ross of Misery Signals and Living With Lions. Perhaps the only change is that they’ve become angrier and louder than ever.
Opening title track “Die Knowing” gives you a taste of what the album is going to sound like: an angry slab of hardcore perfection. It treats you to two minutes of what can only be described as the audio version of an assault on a military compound. The guitars growl in the background like hungry lions while Andrew Neufeld’s vocals taunt you from behind a wall of sonic beauty.
In the past four years, Comeback Kid has definitely built up some anger issues which are being vented in Die Knowing. “Lower the Line” is laced with pent-up anger which leaps at you from every aspect of the song. The anger seems to be directed at a lover who has become disillusioned with Neufeld. Despite this, he promises to “stick around until [she] sees the light of day.”
“Wasted Arrows” is by far my favourite song off the album. I listened to it 20 times while doing the single review and it just got better and better each time I listened to it. It currently sits at 39 plays and has overtaken Rise Against‘s “Swing Life Away” as the most played song on my iTunes playlist. The point that I am trying to make is that this song is brilliant and it really represents everything amazing about the hardcore scene (Okay, the whole album does that, but especially this song). The guitars and drums build up an aggressive instrumental track through which Neufeld’s vocals smash like a wrecking ball.
Who is Pauly Correia? I don’t know but I can tell you that he provides a hearty dose of unclean metalcore-styled vocals on “Losing Sleep”, which continues Comeback Kid’s theme of anger management. “Should Know Better” was the first single off the album. I remember how all the hardcore kids, including me, went absolutely berserk when this song was released, and it was with good reason. It can only be described as a pit-opener. It is aggressive, loud and has a chorus that is perfect for a crowd to scream back at the band. I wonder if they’re telling us that we should know better than to love bad pop music? Probably not as the song leans to being in a difficult situation or being backed up into a corner.
When you see a song that is under two minutes, you know that you’re going to get hit by a ferocious amount of energy. “I Depend, I Control” does just that. It is a monster of a song that is strong from beginning to end. The chanting of “I depend, I depend, I control” must make for great crowd interaction.
“Somewhere In This Miserable” and “Beyond” continue the game of being loud and pissed off. This gives way to “Unconditional”, which is a throwback to the sound of Symptoms + Cures. There is a lot less aggression and Neufeld’s vocals take on a more melodic sound. It is a contrast to the rest of the album and demonstrates that Comeback Kid are a truly brilliant band. “Didn’t Even Mind”continues the nostalgic throwback to the more melodic sound of earlier records.
Scott Wade featuring on “Full Swing”? Do you want some more nostalgia? The former Comeback Kid vocalist returns to show that he still has it in a furious two minutes of hardcore madness. “Sink In” is an aptly titled track. It is the final song of the album and the title calls for us to stop and let the album sink in a bit. The irony is that the chorus is “I don’t want to sink in/I’ve been led astray.” Despite that contradiction, it closes the album perfectly. It contains a moderate amount of anger as if to signal the end of Comeback Kid’s angry rant about life itself. Truly fantastic to say the least.
What has Comeback Kid done? They’ve created an album that is going to set the tone for all future hardcore releases this year. I think other bands in this genre are going to have a hard time trumping this album. Die Knowing doesn’t screw about with over-the-top theatrics or insanely cryptic and political lyrics. It just humbly presents you with a juicy chunk of ferocious hardcore and once you sink your teeth in, you are hooked. It is the perfect example of good hardcore music.